Prepared for Portland

My son and I are driving up to Portland this week. My sister is also coming along, since I have a phobia about being stuck in a car without adult company.

I've made this trek with my son, Silas, several times and the moment that changed my life was when I decided to buy a portable DVD player. I hardly know how I survived before its purchase. I have absolutely no idea how Silas managed to survive those journeys with his frequent backseat sobbing and constant peeing.

I am not exaggerating when I say that I have stopped at every single rest stop between Ashland and Portland. Going both North and Southbound there is no rest stop which I am not horribly, intimately familiar with. I am also well acquainted with many of the various off ramps as well.

During one car trip with Silas it took us more than four hours to get from Eugene to Canyonville. At one point in that trip I had to get out at the rest stop outside of Roseburg just to cry on the phone to my mother while my one-year-old Silas howled in the background. However, I do find the rest stops in the Roseburg area particularly attractive.

When I write my travel book featuring "Great Rest Stops of I-5" the Roseburg ones will feature prominently.

I've even had to stop at the rest stop outside of Talent. That was the trip when Silas was newly potty trained, and he couldn't wait the three miles it would take to pee at home.

On a positive note I also know all the Dutch Brothers Coffee stands along the freeway which are open 24 hours a day. Go ahead, quiz me!

Now, with the portable DVD player I have renewed ambition to leave the city limits of Ashland on occasion and travel to the exotic locals of Portland and Eugene and Salem. I tell people, "I put Wall-E on repeat, he watches it twice, and we're there!" Actually it's not quite that easy, he usually watches Wall-E once, and then Curious George. Now that he's older he'll even watch them with headphones, which is nice for me. Wall-E is a very nice movie to watch, but extraordinarily boring to listen to from the front seat.

What did parents do before the invention of portable DVD players?! My theory is that backseat entertainment on car trips is a major motivator to have more than one child. My siblings and I would enjoyably pass the time by squabbling, poking, snacking, playing games, and once by my sister sitting on my head. My sister fondly remembers this as the time she made me cry, but I stand by that snivel, I find it a totally normal reaction to having your head sat on in the back seat of a Subaru. I now pity people without portable DVD players that way I used to pity only children.

So we're headed to Portland for three days of riding the MAX, visiting the zoo, and eating tacos. I'm taking Silas to celebrate the fact that he survived a year of Kindergarten, and I'm taking my sister to celebrate the fact that she can make adult conversation. This will be fun and easy, as long as Curious George and Wall-E are along for the ride. Otherwise I'll have to find myself another kid, quick! Only this time, if they would just try not to sit on each other in the back seat, at least not on any vital body parts.

Zoë Abel is playing a little car bingo and poking at her sister while Silas sits serenely in the backseat with his videos. You can contact her at

Share This Story